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Brahmin (Skt. brāhmaṇa; T. bram ze བྲམ་ཟེ་) is one of the four castes or hereditary classes (varna) of traditional Indian society. The other three castes being warriors/rulers (kṣatriya), merchants (vaishya) and servants (shudra).

The traditional occupation of Brahmins was that of priesthood at the Hindu temples or at socio-religious ceremonies and rite of passage rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers.[1][2] Traditionally, the Brahmins are accorded the highest ritual status of the four social classes.[3]

Translator Ani Jinpa Palmo states:

[In Buddhist texts], this term often indicates hermits and spiritual practitioners. It should be noted that the Buddha rejected the caste system and proclaimed on several occasions that the true brahmin is not someone so designated through an accident of birth, but one who has thoroughly overcome defilement and attained freedom.[4]

In the early Buddhist texts, the Buddha is critical of the ritual activities of the Brahmin Vedic priests, particularly of rituals of animal sacrifice.[5]


  1. James Lochtefeld (2002), Brahmin, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8, page 125
  2. GS Ghurye (1969), Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-205-5, pages 15–18
  3. Doniger, Wendy (1999). Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions. Springfield, MA, USA: Merriam-Webster. pp. 141–142, 186. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0. 
  4. Rangjung a-circle30px.jpg Brahmin, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
  5. Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. kṣatriya

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